Press Release Rural Broadband Access Spectrum Reform

Public Knowledge Applauds FCC Chairman Pai for Order Boosting Rural Broadband Spectrum

October 6, 2020 , , , , , ,

Today, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Pai published a draft Report and Order to help close the digital divide by allowing devices that use unlicensed spectrum to provide better broadband coverage in rural and unserved areas.

These “TV white space” (TVWS) devices are already authorized to operate on vacant broadcast channels provided they do not interfere with licensed broadcast transmission. Although already in use in rural areas to provide broadband, the existing rules have made deployment of TVWS devices more expensive and less useful than needed to protect broadcast signals.

Under the draft Order, devices operating in rural areas will be able to operate at significantly greater power than authorized under existing rules in “non-congested” (i.e., rural) areas. This will dramatically improve the ability of internet service providers to use TVWS devices to bring broadband to rural areas. The Order proposes additional safeguards to protect broadcast signals from the higher power devices.

Public Knowledge supports the proposed order, and looks forward to working with the FCC to make this plan a reality. The full FCC will vote on the draft Order at the next FCC Open Meeting on October 27.

The following can be attributed to Harold Feld, Senior Vice President at Public Knowledge:

“With this Order, the FCC gives rural communities an important tool for bringing quality broadband to rural Americans. While no one imagines that this alone will solve the digital divide, common sense rule changes like this will help to make the promise of broadband for all Americans a reality. 

“We thank Chairman Pai for circulating this Order. We also thank Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel and Commissioner Michael O’Reilly for their continued and unflagging support for unlicensed spectrum and TV white spaces, which made this progress possible.”